Fraise to jump into 2024 Supervisor race

Democrat to switch to Republican ticket in 2024 campaign


LEE COUNTY – With everyone focusing their attention on the school/city general election underway today, another piece of election news surfaced last night that will impact the 2024 general election.
Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise, who announced her retirement from the Lee County Auditor’s post at year’s end, and then rescinded that retirement, has announced she will be seeking the District 1 Supervisor’s post in 2024.
The odd part of the news is that Fraise, who’s run on the Democratic ticket for the past 10 years as Lee County Auditor, will now run on the Republican ticket. She was registered as a Republican earlier in her life.
After 27 years as an employee of Lee County, Fraise said she was approached by Lee County Republican leadership to run for the Supervisor’s office. She said it’s been her personal approach to vote for the candidate and not the party in explaining the shift from Democrat to Republican in 2024.
Fraise said Lee County Treasurer Becky Gaylord made a similar move in 2022 when she was elected to her post.
“She was a Democrat, too, and she switched. What they told her was they want the best candidate on their ballot. They didn’t care that she’d been a Democrat. They want the best candidate on their ticket,” Fraise said.
She said she’s not concerned about the optics of running on the Republican ticket, and she said she has no idea who would be running against her.
Ron Fedler has said this will be his last year, but many elected officials change their minds after last-minute discussions.
But her platform on the board would be to not let her party influence her decisions.
“I won’t be beholden to any party, Oh God no,” she said. I just want what’s best for the county. Jim and I’ve been just talking about it a lot lately. I thought, ‘I just want to retire and just do nothing’, but then I thought ‘I’m only 62 years old’. I was going to do something anyway, so why go get a job and learn something new, when I already know this job.”
Very few would have a resume that stacks up against Fraise’s in experience in going about the county’s business.
“I’ve been sitting at that table for years and I don’t have any say in anything. Obviously there is some work behind the scenes, but no vote,” she said.
Fraise was the county Election Administrator for 17 years and then when Anne Pederson retired as Auditor, Fraise ran without any opposition. She hasn’t been opposed in any of her re-election bids.
She wants to parlay that candidacy success into the run at County Supervisor.
“I had thought about it off and on and off and on and I would ask myself if I want to keep doing this and I do. I really do. I really do love Lee County and I want to see it prosper and grow,” she said.
The new property tax bill is what she said is the biggest challenge facing the county. House File 718, which was signed into law by the Governor in May forces local governments to reduce their reliance on property taxes for revenue growth over the next four years to a base general fund levy of $3.50. The County has set up plans to reduce its general levy by 25% each year to get to the state-mandated rate by 2027.
The county currently has a $5.85/$1,000 assessed valuation on the state’s rollback. Fraise said the county won’t be able to conduct itself as it does if that number results in a reduction in revenue and services would likely take a hit.
She said she would be willing to consider cutting services that can be found in the private sector to curb expenses.
There are a lot of unknown factors the county is dealing with including what assessed values will look like, increasing insurance costs, and where the state will ultimately settle in on the new law. There is some discussion percolating that the new law will get a facelift in the new session.
“I’d really like to continue providing the services we are right now, but I just don’t know if that’s possible with these budget constraints,” she said.
“That $3.50 cap has been here for about 40 years. But things cost so much more - why would they settle on 3.50?”
Fraise said the learning curve with the budget would also be non-existent.
“I know how the budget works after working with (Budget Director) Cindy (Renstrom) in this office. It’d be a very easy transition. There wouldn’t be any learning curve,” she said.
Priorities for her would be economic development. She said she wouldn’t support increasing the contribution to Lee County Economic Development Group.
“They are doing well out there and I’m really excited about the solar field,” she said.
The county will see a utility tax off the solar field in a similar way they do with current pipelines that run through the county.
Her work over the past 27 years has also brought her in close contact with other department heads and that would be another qualification she has that other candidates would not.
“I’ve worked with the other department heads and I feel like I’ve gained their respect. I know their pain and I think the learning curve there would be very small.” Fraise said.

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  • Ebania

    Taxes are too high. The rest of the entire nation pays way less, about 1/4 of Lee County property tax rates. The governor was forced to cap the property tax rate due to county politicians. People cannot afford the out-of-control spending. People cannot afford to keep their homes with these nut-case politicians who spend, spend, spend. We were told coffers need to be filled to cover the "gap" to continue building the Ritz Carlton of ambulance garages. Now, suddenly Fraise claims that without this exorbitant tax increase the county cannot be run? Retire lady, the people of Lee county don't need your spendthrift ways. Lee County is literally the most poorly run county in the state. People like Fraise are the pro-spenders that make it the worst place to live. Don't vote for her. The cost will be too high.

    Tuesday, November 7, 2023 Report this

  • JerryHamelton

    I ran my whole campaign on the fact that taxes are to high and the people of Fort Madison disagreed with me. The population is dropping like a rock, businesses and industry are disappearing. Unless you get 80% of the people to either get a job so they know what its like to pay taxes or just do like I have decided to do, its time to flee this dying democrat ran job killer of an area. You can see that some of the smarter people are waking up slowly and switching parties. But the damage done through excessive taxation and corruption will have decades of depressing economic results for this area.

    Wednesday, November 8, 2023 Report this

  • Andrew

    Lee County government is a bloated dysfunctional mess that for far too long has been treated as a jobs program for the politically well connected.

    Having two county seats in the modern age is absolutely absurd. Consolidate county government (Sheriff’s office, county shed obvious exceptions) at one location, the county offices in FM being the most centrally located and most logical. The departments need to live within their means just as the residents of the county are forced to do every month. Sell off excess property. The budget and county employees could be cut by 50% at minimum. Bring salaries down to level of similar jobs in the private sector including making government employees subject to the same insurance plans that everyone else in the private sector has been forced into.

    This mess as been building for decades and it’s not going to be pleasant or easy to rein in and slash the bureaucracy, correct the mismanagement and root out the corruption that seems to be endemic to extreme SE Iowa, Lee County in particular.

    Friday, November 10, 2023 Report this